Q&A: RTP Ventures’ Jalak Jobanputra Weighs in on New $120M Fund

RTP Ventures, a $120 million fund in New York, which also has offices in Boston, brought in Jalak Jobanputra early this month as a managing director and a founding partner. RTP was founded last year by Moscow-based ru-Net, a $700 million technology and Internet investment company, to extend its investment activity to the United States.

Jobanputra previously was director of emerging mobile investments with Omidyar Network, which is a fund founded by eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar. Jobanputra’s history in the New York innovation scene also extends back to the New York City Investment Fund, where she served as a senior vice president and managing investments in startups such as Outside.in and TxVia. She got her start in the venture world at Intel Capital in Silicon Valley.

Jobanputra spoke to Xconomy about joining RTP Ventures and the types of companies that catch her eye.

Xconomy: What drew you to work with RTP Ventures?

Jobanputra: I was looking at raising my own fund or joining a startup fund. I saw certain opportunities out there that weren’t being fully addressed by the existing venture market. One was this globalization trend that we’re seeing and the opportunity for cross-border ventures. There are companies here that could access markets outside of the U.S. Since the Internet is a global, open platform, there are companies that can launch their products and see traction in other countries, ranging from Brazil to India to the Middle East. They want to form strategies for those markets and could benefit from investors that have that global reach and expertise. The opportunity to join a team that is able to do that was very attractive to me. Having a fund of this size, $120 million, and access to the $700 million of ru-Net, allows the opportunity to invest in companies both at the early stage and support them through their growth, or to look at later-stage opportunities that can benefit from the expertise on the team.

X: Where did you find examples of startups that have grown by operating across borders and that embody what you are looking for?

J: Through my conversations with entrepreneurs that I have worked with and from traveling around the world. Last year I was director of emerging mobile investments at Omidyar Network. I was seeing what has happening in different markets, from Nairobi to Mumbai to Mexico City to Jakarta. I saw the innovation that is happening in these other regions, and realized there were opportunities to make connections between entrepreneurs here and in other regions and also access some of the talent that exists outside of the U.S.

X: You plan to focus on mobile, e-commerce, payments at RTP. What is happening in those sectors that you find exciting?

J: The theme crossing all of these areas is what’s happening in mobile—smartphones as well as tablets. Just as we saw [terrestrial] broadband Internet develop, we’re seeing development on the mobile side at a more accelerated pace. Mobile phones and tablets have turned into mini computers and payments engines and commerce engines. I’ll be looking for opportunities that leverage or create applications and infrastructure that support that thesis. We’re in the very early stages of … Next Page »

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